What next for the CIO?

26 Nov

So what does the future hold for the CIO? With the rise of cloud computing, IT budget cuts and accelerated integration of business units there has never been a more rumbustious time to be a CIO. The buzzword now in discussions around the modern day CIO is ‘collaboration’. While collaboration entails many different aspects, it primarily reflects the formation of a shared information base and collective intelligence. Cloud sourcing and social networks are the processes which enable such formations – and those are the processes where the CIO will need to make inroads.

The future role of the CIO will be a radical departure from the IT ‘techie’ obsessed position of old. Jim Stikeleather, CIO of Dell Services, brilliantly outlines this departure when he states, “As we shift from IT with a focus on productivity to business technology with a focus on collaboration; and as we shift from systems of record to systems of boundless collaboration backed by endless computational resources available to all, the future is here now” (2012).

Multidisciplinary skills are a must for budding CIOs – whereas flexibility was previously a handy attribute, it is now an essential requirement. These days Business technology is more commonly defined in terms of people and collaboration – not computers and automation. There is an argument indeed that the title of CIO should be altered to reflect this new realm. The term has been in use now for 30 years – a period of monumental transitions within IT – yet the title remains the same. It seems inevitable that a new term to define the modern CIO will emerge just as it did in the past – from ‘director of data processing’ in the 1950s to ‘director of management information systems’ in the 1970s.

As IT functions expand within a company so too does scrutiny. The traditional cycle of IT investment involves investing money in a given project with that project’s long-term outcome resulting in some sort of competitive advantage for the company. However with costs increasing and IT budgets being continually squeezed this traditional cycle of IT investment is more and more being deemed as unacceptable. Managing this will require smart coalition tactics and rational persuasion from the CIO.

Another key area for CIOs in the future is cloud computing. According to Jim Stikeleather the main advantages of cloud computing is:

–       The ability to build and deploy new business applications rapidly at low cost

–       The ability to implement new revenue-generating business models

It will be the CIO’s responsibility that such functions are executed “in a coherent and cohesive manner in the context of the entire enterprise” (Stikeleather, 2012). Therein ensuring that cloud computing is being used to its fullest potential is where the biggest challenge lies for the CIO.

Overall the future appears tumultuous but ultimately bright for the CIO. One has to be confident that the CIO can meet the challenges it currently faces head-on. We only need look at how the role of the CIO has evolved in the last 30 years to see that the position has always managed to remain critical and relevant. As Jim Stikeleather points out the CIO “has evolved from the custodian of the infrastructure under the CFO to a business leader with a seat at the executive table”. On that basis alone it will be fascinating to see how the CIO is perceived twenty years from now.

Source: http://www.sourcingfocus.com/site/blogentry/5265/

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One Response to “What next for the CIO?”

  1. oconnormatty7 November 27, 2012 at 9:35 am #

    Good post anon100. I’d agree with your main points in this regarding the tumultuous future in store but as Ross and Feeney pointed out in their article which I covered, at various points throughout the last 40 years or so the role had to change so much to adapt to its surroundings when the future looked precarious. I’m sure the role and responsibilities will adapt once more to fit its environment.

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